I walked into this NYC apartment on a fall morning and saw great, huge, beautiful photo artwork hanging on the blue-gray walls. I peeked into the homeowner’s office and saw two working computers in his office and thought, “how cool.” I was super giddy and started putting my things away, and then he walked in. I had volunteered to help Dane Sanders, author of Fast Track Photographer, to host his NYC workshop, and this workshop would impact me greatly. As a newbie photographer attending her first 2-day workshop, then meeting a photographer educator that I admired, I was ecstatic. One thing I did do early in my business was to volunteer and participate in community building.
As the morning passed, the attendees started showing up one by one. It was sure an eclectic group who sat in that small NYC living room 8 years ago, and it has been great to follow some of their journeys to this day. There was one attendee that I have not kept up with but who stated a phrase that would stick with me. She had just quit her job at Google to become an entrepreneur and was there to get clarity on what to do next. When she introduced herself, she said that her role at Google was to look at their workflows and systems and to shave off inefficiencies. I had never heard of that term, but I liked it.
As I pursued entrepreneurship with my photography career and now my SEO blog, I began learning all about systems and workflows and would on occasion think about that phrase: Shave off inefficiencies. So my fellow creatives, I wanted to share that my word of the year is Efficient. It means:
- performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort; having and using requisite knowledge, skill, and industry; competent; capable: a reliable, efficient assistant.
Last year, I wanted to simplify my life because as I looked around, I saw that I was not doing what really mattered in life. We get so caught up in numbers of followers, blog traffic and income reports that we forget to ask ourselves the bigger questions. What matters most in your life? How is this affecting my family? My mental health? Is this aligned with my core values? My biggest core value is freedom and flexibility. But not freedom at a price where I become imprisoned to checking notifications, adhering to FOMS, or working 16 hours a day and getting nothing done (at least nothing that actually moves my business forward or helps me reach my financial goals).
I am sorry, but I won’t wear the badge that I’d rather work 60 hours for myself than 40 hours for someone else. I am an entrepreneur because of the freedom it gives me: freedom to create, freedom to be, freedom to travel and freedom to earn. But, there are more important things in life like family, taking care of my health, and being more centered. Life is so precious and goes by so fast that I don’t want to waste it. I want to be efficient, as I don’t want to waste time or effort. I have been an entrepreneur for almost nine years now, and in my earlier days, I ignored systems and organization because, after all, I am a creative. I don’t do well with stats and numbers. But my friend, the key to running a successful business online and having some kind of balance is to be organized with your time and get tasks done and take time for yourself.
What has helped me already reach some goals this year is getting Trello For Business. This was the best $29 investment that I made for my business, as it guides me with some workflows so I can break down big picture goals into tasks for the quarter, and then tasks for the month, and even down to the week. Yes, I had heard all about breaking down your bigger goals to smaller goals before, but it hadn’t sunk in until now. Why? Because I never truly scheduled things nor set a true business schedule for myself. I worked all hours at the expense of my family and of my time. I am re-evaluating my workflows, systems, and organization so I can shave off inefficiencies to stop wasting time and money. So for 2017, I say no to that, and I say yes to being more efficient.
P.S I plan to get a little more personal on the blog this year too.
What about you? What has helped you? What is your word of the year?